Kathmandu, August 4
Newly appointed Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai has said that construction of the Nijgadh International Airport (NIA) will no longer remain in discussion only.
Speaking during the first meeting with the International Relation and Labour Committee of the Parliament today, Minister Bhattarai has ensured the lawmakers regarding the construction of NIA.
“Talks about constructing NIA that have been going on since the last 24 years will end now and construction of the airport will begin within the first year of my tenure,” he reiterated.
The airport construction has been delayed for a long time due to several reasons but we will now begin the work in earnest by taking into consideration all the environmental, social and financial aspects, the minister added. “I may not have the experience like our senior leaders do but I will work under their guidance and take their advice for the betterment of this sector,” he said. “I am pretty aware about the current situation of the country’s tourism sector and I assure you that during my tenure the ministry will work transparently and with accountability.”
Moreover, Minister Bhattarai said that his major priority will be infrastructure development for the tourism sector. He added that the development of all cultures, tourism and aviation sector will now take place simultaneously.
While lawmakers recommended Bhattarai to conduct in-depth studies on scams like fake rescue and procurement of wide-body aircraft, Bhattarai said that all information related to his work will be made transparent and he will not let any political interference influence the ministry’s works.
During the meeting lawmakers also recommended the minister to focus more on non-operational airports in country rather than planning on constructing a new airport in Kavrepalanchowk as an alternative to Tribhuvan International Airport.
“Our current requirement is to build international airports and upgrade domestic airports. The plan to build an alternative airport close to the Valley is useless,” said Dibyamani Rajbhandari, member of the committee.
Prior to this the committee had recommended tourism ministry no to take forth the plan to build the Kavrepalanchowk airport. However, the budget for current fiscal has mentioned the airport construction in Kavrepalanchowk district, which conveys a message that the ministry has directly disobeyed the Parliament, he added.
Expressing their satisfaction on the appointment of Bhattarai as the tourism minister, the lawmakers have made him aware regarding the pathetic condition of Nepal Airlines Corporation, slow place of tourism development, declining expenses of tourists in the country, the importance of religious and historical tourism as well as other sectors that he has to work on.
A version of this article appears in print on August 05, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.